Fantagraphics; 1992; $2.75; 36 pgs; available collected.
Two stories end in this issue, with Poison River having one more to go. But the issue opens with the finale Wigwam Bam, which Jaime didn’t announce last issue, and the last Love and Rockets, which Beto did. Wigwam Bam opens the issue, Love and Rockets finishes it.
Jaime gets a lot done in Wigwam Bam. It helps he’s finished the Hoppers stories. He’s got time to spend a lot of panels on Hopey. Her East coast adventure comes to a very grim conclusion, albeit a grim conclusion arrived at via lots of humor. Meanwhile Izzy is off visiting Maggie’s dad and he gives her an old journal. So the story is Izzy reading Maggie’s journal and Hopey’s awful day.
While Jaime doesn’t get into Hopey’s interiority much–he more lets her expression or even eyebrow her way through it–it’s an excellent Hopey story. Maybe the best Hopey story in Wigwam Bam. Because it’s all about her. Jaime sticks with her, doesn’t jump away. Instead it feels like he’s jumping to her, instead of avoiding her. Very nice.
And the Maggie journal stuff is fantastic. Because it answers open questions, like what happened a dozen plus issues ago when Speedy died, before Jaime did a jump ahead. The journal is mostly about Maggie’s first best friend, who appeared a long time ago (also in flashback) before dying suddenly and tragically.
There’s also plot, not just everyone in Hoppers having stuff going on so here’s ten to sixteen pages. Hopey’s awful adventure this issue is fantastic. The best plotting–with the most layers–Jaime’s done in a while. He doesn’t “save” the story, because Wigwam Bam isn’t so much a story as a period in Jaime’s Love and Rockets stories.
Otherwise, he probably would’ve saved the story.
Beto’s second-to-last Poison River is outstanding. There’s some postscript on the gangsters, then Luba returning home. The grown Luba. Lots of character development for Luba and Ofelia, not much clue as to how Beto’s going to finish it. He brings back elements from earlier chapters but everyone’s outgrown them in one way or another. Beto’s getting the story settled before it ends while reintroducing Luba and Ofelia, with a relationship dynamic much more familiar than Poison had been covering before.
Of course, given how Beto’s plotted the story, it could go on another ten chapters without coming to a conclusion. It all depends on where he’s going to finish Luba’s origin story. Based on the timeline, I don’t think it can end with them showing up in Palomar. They’re still too early.
Then comes Love and Rockets, which is Beto’s simple but not, obvious but not, stone-cold masterpiece. It’s way more impressive than it originally appeared–it also echoes things from Poison. The two stories don’t exactly complement one another, but Rockets has always felt like Beto doing things he couldn’t do in Poison. And then when he started doing more in Poison, he started doing more in Rockets too.
Beto perfects the panel jumping from subplot-to-subplot in Rockets’s finale. Along with the characters addressing the reader directly. He goes all over the place, does so much, including a lot with fourth tier supporting cast members. Turns out it was all important.
And it ends on one of Beto’s montages, which he hasn’t done in a while because he hasn’t been ending a story. And the montage perfectly grounds the finish. So much amazing storytelling done so concisely. It’s awesome.
Love and Rockets might actually be Beto’s most complex narrative. There are just so many characters–so many entirely new characters–so much random interaction… it’s really impressive stuff. Particularly because Beto’s ambitions on Rockets have been rather muted.
So good. It’s the best overall issue in a while.